STICKNEY, IL – When it comes to Illinois-bred turf horses, trainer Chris Block is one of the names that always is among the first to be recognized. Top Illinois-bred stakes horses like Fort Prado, Suntracer and Mystery Giver are just a few Block has trained and the next set of stars appear to be lining up for Block as the turf stakes program continues at Hawthorne.
Last week was the running of the $75,000 Illini Princess on the turf for Illinois-bred females as a field of nine took to the firm turf. The race had a lot of early pace and a pair of very talented runners from the barn of trainer Michele Boyce in Cat Attack and Katie M’lady. At the start of the Illini Princess, longshot Lipliner winged it for the lead in the 1 1/16 mile event as Kate M’lady, who was coming off a year layoff, kept after Lipliner through an opening quarter in :22.71. On the backstretch, Katie M’lady was joined by Cat Attack as the duo scampered through a quick half in :46.50 and three quarters in 1:10.32. Biding his time behind the leaders was jockey Orlando Mojica abord lightly raced Trail Ridge Road as they began to pick up the chase into the lane. In the stretch Katie M’lady was all heart but Trail Ridge Road had gotten the perfect setup and ran by to win by two lengths in 1:41.32. Katie M’lady held second while longshot Kingsbury Dream rallied from last to finish third.
The win was the second in four career starts for Trail Ridge Road. A homebred, owned by Team Block boosted her career earnings to $96,100. The third choice in betting, Trail Ridge Road returned $9.20, $4.00 and $2.80. Katie M’lady $2.80 and $2.40 while Kingsbury Dream returned $4.80 to show.
This week the Illinois-bred boys take to the turf for the $75,000 The Pizza Man stakes, honoring one of the top Illinois-bred turf horses of all time. Owned and bred by Midwest Thoroughbreds, The Pizza Man was a 17-time winner, earning over $2.1 million in his career. His first victory came over the Hawthorne turf course and he also posted wins in the Buck’s Boy Handicap and Robert F. Carey Memorial on the grass at Hawthorne. A five-time graded stakes winner, The Pizza Man grabbed marquee victories in the 2015 Grade 1 Arlington Million and 2016 Grade 1 Northern Dancer.
A field of seven is entered for The Pizza Man stakes as Chris Block has a pair in the race. The 2-1 morning line favorite is Another Mystery as owner/breeder Team Block looks for back-to-back stakes scores over the Hawthorne turf. A winner of eight of 30 lifetime starts, Another Mystery opened his 2022 season with his first graded stakes score, winning the Grade 3 John B. Connally Turf Cup at Sam Houston on January 30. After a strong second behind Channel Maker in the Grade 2 Elkhorn at Keeneland on April 23, he was victorious again over the Hawthorne turf in the state-bred Black Tie Affair on June 3. He would rally late to finish second in the Colonial Cup Stakes on July 27 before most recently running third in the Grade 3 Kentucky Turf Cup at Kentucky Downs on September 10, a race where he was beaten only a neck for the victory. Orlando Mojica rides Another Mystery on Saturday.
The second Block entrant in the race is 6-1 shot Land Mark Deal. A five-year-old gelding who has finished in the top three in 10 of 21 career starts, Land Mark Deal finished fourth in this event last fall. After getting a rest between the end of his 2021 campaign and start of 2022 season, Land Mark Deal was impressive in an allowance victory over the Hawthorne turf on June 11. After making two starts at Colonial this summer, he returned to Hawthorne and most recently finished a close third behind Richiesgotgame, another entrant in The Pizza Man on September 25. Emmanuel Esquivel gets the call on Land Mark Deal in The Pizza Man.
The field for The Pizza Man Stakes:
PP Horse Jockey Trainer M/L
1 Richiesgotgame J. Loveberry L. Rivelli 9-2
2 Readthecliffnotes V. Santiago M. Boyce 5-1
3 Another Mystery O. Mojica C. Block 2-1
4 Power Through C. Emigh M. Goldfine 10-1
5 Temper Tantrum M. Pedroza, Jr. A. Hernandez 5-2
6 Land Mark Deal E. Esquivel C. Block 6-1
7 You’re In Corey J. Tavares R. Pompell 15-1
Hawthorne Race Course, Chicago’s Hometown Track, races year-round in 2022. The winter harness season concluded on Sunday, March 20. Spring thoroughbreds kicked off Saturday, April 2 and concluded Saturday, June 25. The summer harness season began on Thursday, June 30 and raced through Sunday, September 11. Fall thoroughbreds returned on Friday, September 23 and race through Saturday, December 31. For any information about Hawthorne Race Course visit our website www.HawthorneRaceCourse.com.